As a speech therapist working with school-aged children, you are probably quite familiar with the excitement and anxiety students experiences the beginning of each school year. Even if you work during the summer months, August and September are probably two of the busiest months for you. In addition to preparing lessons for your returning students, you also need to find ways to welcome new ones. Fortunately, with a little planning and organization you can get a head start on your beginning of year tasks and make time for enjoying the opportunity to reconnect with your students.
Plan your assessment strategy
Even the best students and the most dedicated parents skip therapy and exercises during the summer vacation. Instead of being disappointed about their regression, plan to reach out to the parents a few weeks before the first week of school. You can send a personalized message that contains a summary of exercises and some encouraging words that will help both parents and their children get back on track. Give student a chance to resume their routines and ask parents to fill out your assessment once they are back on track. This will help eliminating feelings of guilt, and you are more likely to get an accurate assessment.
Streamline lesson plans
Tailoring a lesson plan to each student and their specific needs and interests is the very basis of your work as therapist. Yet planning each lesson from scratch is the most time consuming part of your work. If you take some time before the school year starts to develop generalized lesson plans that can be adapted to fit individual students, you will find balancing time spent with the students and planning their lessons a breeze. Following the same program format with different content will also provide an underlying structure to your therapy sessions, and help your students engage with the material.
Partner with parents
Designing Individualized Education Program plans that keep students interested can be challenging, especially if you have been working with the student for a few years. As students grow, their interests also change. During the summer holidays they may have started a new hobby or developed interest in a new activity. The truth is, you simply cannot know unless you ask. This is where parents can help you out. Including a section in your back-to-school outreach message that asks parents to share information about their children’s new interests will help you better prepare for the upcoming year.